Sunday, August 28, 2011

A perfect spot for a Sunday swim

Relaxing on the deck at Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre (LPAC) is a nice way to spend an hour or so on a sunny Sunday like today.  It's even nicer with coffee and cake from the complex's Blu Aqua Kiosk after 20 or 30 laps up and down the 50-metre pool.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Diving in to London's lovely lidos

Tooting Bec Lido. Photo from

There was a good story in last weekend's Travel and Indulgence section of The Weekend Australian on some of London's outdoor swimming areas.  Headed London's Liquid Assets, Rosamund Burton's story features Brookwell Lido, Tooting Bec Lido, Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath Ponds.

In the United Kingdom and some other countries, the word lido refers to a public outdoor swimming pool and surrounding facilities, or part of a beach where people can swim, lie in the sun or participate in water sports.

Wikipedia says the term lido is the Italian word for beach and forms part of the place name of several Italian seaside towns known for their beach, e.g. Lido di Venezia, the barrier beach enclosing the Lagoon of Venice. Possibly the term found its way into English from returning English visitors to Lido di Venezia, where sea-bathing took place from the late 19th century.[1] The word was first used for a public outdoor swimming pool in the UK in July 1935, in London.

As Rosamund Burton says in her article: "On sunny summer days these pools are packed with people of all ages, but the rest of the year it's only the eccentric cold-water swimmers, exhilarated by a cool dip, who keep these pools open."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pool spotting from the French alps to the coast

Being slightly obsessed with pools, I did a lot of piscine (France) and piscina (Italy and Spain) spotting on our recent overseas trip. In the French Alps and the Alpes de Haute Provence we came across a number of municipal pools in picturesque locations. Unfortunately our timing in mid-May meant that most weren't open.

In Barcelonnette the local pool was in an elevated position overlooking the town and up to the snow-capped mountains.  Not far from the Italian border, Barcelonnette is a centre for mountain sports.

It is also famous for its Mexican connections with a number of its citizens emigrating there between 1814 to 1955 to set up textile businesses.  About 90 per cent  remained in the country and became citizens. The ten per cent of prosperous families who returned built huge mansions in the town which you can see today.

South from Barcelonnette we visited the lovely village of Castellane in the Alpes de Haute Provence. Here the piscine was in a picturesque location by the river. 

It would be a perfect place to float on your back and gaze up to the Notre-Dame du Roc chapel perched high above the town.

In 812 when Castellane was totally destroyed by Saracen invasions, survivors took refuge on the rock. The Notre-Dame du Roc chapel was added in 1703.

From Castellane we travelled on to the Gorges du Verdon, the largest canyon in Europe. On the way there were many camping grounds, including some with pools.

When we walked down into the gorge which stretches for 25 kilometres, groups of German teenagers were enjoying a dip in one of many natural pools created along the Verdon River.

The final pool spotted on our journey from the French Alps to the Cote d'Ázure was on the outskirts of Grasse. Perched high above the perfume-producing city, the pool is aptly named  La Piscine Altitude 500 for its breathtaking location. We will have to return for a swim. You can find information on all 2528 piscines in France here.